Sepsis can be deadly

Published: 2/13/2020 2:52:55 PM

Recent reports place the cause of 20% of deaths worldwide on sepsis, this is due to a new study out this year in The Lancet, and that puts the number of deaths twice what was previously thought. But what is sepsis exactly, and how can we recognize the signs in our loved ones, or ourselves, before it’s too late?

Many people know sepsis by its old name, “blood poisoning.” The name comes from the chain reaction of immune response throughout a person’s body after they have a localized infection.

A sepsis infection begins with a localized infection somewhere in our body. This could be a bladder or kidney infection, pneumonia, or even a small cut that becomes infected. Unlike a regular infection, where our body targets only the infected area, sepsis is when our body produces such a strong immune system response to an infection that it begins to attack our own body. The immune system sends chemicals into our blood to combat the infection, and those chemicals trigger inflammation throughout our whole body.

This inflammation causes blood clots, leaky blood vessels, and circulatory difficulties that deprive our organs of nutrients and oxygen, leading to organ damage or failure. This chain of events leads to septic shock and death. Sepsis.org notes that the survival rate for patients with severe sepsis drops 8% every hour a person doesn’t receive timely treatment.

Kristin Jordan, manager of quality, education, compliance and private duty at Franklin VNA & Hospice, said, “Educating yourself and your loved ones on what to look for is critical, and so is feeling authorized to ask your healthcare providers, ‘Do you think this could be sepsis?’ ”

In fact, she is so dedicated to sepsis prevention that last year, the Franklin VNA & Hospice developed an information sheet for their patients who are at risk for sepsis. The easy to read “Zone Tool” helps patients to watch for common signs of sepsis, like fever, shaking chills, confusion, racing heart, and not producing much urine. Your goal is to be in the green zone of no symptoms, rather than the yellow or red zones that indicate you have symptoms that need attention.

“We are proud of the excellent care we provide, as part of that, we want to empower and educate our patients in the signs of sepsis. Sepsis can develop quickly, and we want them to be able to recognize the signs early and know what they should do,” Jordan said.

Early recognition is critical, as even those who survive sepsis are often left with serious health conditions. Sepsis.org states a third of all sepsis survivors are re-hospitalized within three months of their initial sepsis. Every day there are an average of 38 amputations in the US as a result of sepsis, and 60% are left with worsened mental or physical function than before they had sepsis.

“Ensure that your care team is familiar with signs and symptoms of sepsis and that you are too,” Jordan said. “Early recognition and treatment are key to a full recovery.”

For more information, call Franklin VNA & Hospice at 934-3454 or visit FranklinVNA.org.

Franklin VNA and Hospice


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